Judy Rodman - All Things Vocal Blog: February 2021

Training & insights for stage and studio singers, speakers, vocal coaches and producers from professional vocal coach and author of "Power, Path & Performance" vocal training method. Download All Things Vocal podcast on your fav app!

Tuesday, February 9, 2021

3 Signs Your Vocal Technique Needs Help

What's your sign?
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To make good music, you need more than a well-made instrument; you actually need to operate it well. Otherwise, we could all pick up a Stradivarius violin and begin to bow like Itzhak Perlman! So it is with the voice. Sometimes your technique is naturally good; sometimes it could be a lot better with some tweaking. How do you know if you're using good vocal technique? When singing and/or speaking, check for these three signs:

Sign #1: Your voice doesn't feel good

Many people think that it's normal and inevitable for the voice to feel tired or strained after using it a lot. Well, I've come to firmly believe that is not true. In fact, one of my favorite things to do in lessons is to have a student come in with a voice that is feeling strained, and watch their reaction when their vocal strain disappears with a change of technique. 

If you use healthy technique, strong singing and loud speaking can be a kind of magic trick. This is how even rock and classical singers can have career longevity... they do what they do without trashing their vocal folds. The only exception to the rule that you should use healthy technique is if you're a voiceover artist who needs to create an abusive sound. In that case, it's even more important to learn healthy warm-up and cool-down vocal exercises. And make sure your technique is perfect when doing those exercises!

How to tweak technique for vocal health:

  • Stop pushing too much breath... learn to pull your voice out for vocal strength!
  • Learn to do vocal exercises with proper form to change bad habits into protective vocal technique.
  • Make sure your overall health is good, because your voice is part of your body and mind. Signup for my 5 page document with vocal health tips
  • Consider having diluted pineapple drink to sip on when you are using your voice a lot.

Sign #2: Your voice doesn't sound good

Many singers and speakers think their voices are just naturally the wrong shape or size to sound good. In truth, the size and shape of your larynx and your resonating spaces and surfaces ARE important to how you can sound, but like the brain, most people don't know how to access what they've got! You can change bad tone to amazing degrees by accessing your resonance spaces differently. 

As a session singer singing background vocals on other artists' recordings, I've had to learn to thin, thicken, brighten and darken my tone, speed or slow my vibrato, match foreign language dialect, and sing smoothly around and over my natural vocal passagio area in order to blend my voice with others or 'step out' on a line as the producer desired. Voiceover artists have to take on all kinds of different vocal tones. We humans can make an amazing array of sounds!

How to tweak technique for vocal sound:

  • Stretch your throat channel or 'voice cave' up, down and back when warming up. Lift your eyebrows, drop & circle your jaw, move your head back over your heels or tailbone and do some crazy berserk bird or karate-kiya yell exercises.
  • To access more resonance, use more facial language when singing or speaking. Especially activate your eyes and move your jaw.
  • Change your posture. Balance your head farther back on your spine than usual to allow the vibration from your vocal cords a wider channel through which to reach various resonating spaces. Learn how you can use your hands to make this happen.
  • Try miming a voice that you think 'sounds good'. Often, just intending that sound can tell your vocal apparatus what it needs to do to get it. After all, that's how you learned to sound like your family, for better or worse!

Sign #3: Your voice doesn't communicate well

The only reason that voice box is in your throat is to deliver messages. If you want to create a 'good vocal sound', remember that the real measure of success for the voice is whether or not it gets the response it wants from the heart to whom it's communicating! 

How to tweak technique for better communication:

  • After warming up and practicing technical aspects of the song or speech, go into what I call 'lights, camera, action mode'. Use acting technique: What is your message? To whom are you communicating? What would the response be if you got your message through?
  • Use your imagination to focus on your intended listener and to eliminate distracting stimuli that your senses may be bombarded with.
  • In the recording studio, make sure only you and your intended listener are present in the vocal booth. Don't sing to the producer or the pop filter! 
  • Use more communicative articulation: practice singing or speaking as if your intended target is partially or selectively deaf.

How it Feels + How it Sounds + What it Accomplishes = Vocal Synergy!

To be in best voice for singing or speaking, you need your voice to feel good, sound good, and communicate well. These three things affect each other synergistically. When your voice feels bad, it generally sounds bad and your communication will be distracted, producing a weak connection. When your voice feels good, it opens up to more resonation and more interesting sound, and you can much more effectively make somebody hear and respond to you! 

Need help? 

Get some vocal training! I'm available for online lessons these days; just contact me at this link to book. My lesson rate is $125 an hour or $65 for 1/2 hr. Or purchase a packaged course on my website. No matter what your budget or time constraints, where there is a will, there is a way to get all these signs pointing in the right direction!  

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Monday, February 1, 2021

Chat with Artist Mentor Laura Monaco-Martino

    Laura Monaco-Martino                                               Judy Rodman

NOTE: The audio player should appear below, if not, please click the title of this post and go online to hear. You can also listen & subscribe on iTunesTuneIn RadioStitcher, Spotify, AmazonPodbean, most other podcast apps.

PLEASE REVIEW at ratethispodcast.com/atv


In my interviews for you here on All Things Vocal, I try to brainstorm with other professional-level music mentors who have proven the value of their advice from actual success in the music industry.  And so it is with my guest today, Laura Monaco-Martino. She is a creative entrepreneur, a veteran singer, empathic teacher and producer, successful songwriter AND... she is a new mom! She and I had a delightful chat about our work with our clients as well as our amazingly parallel journeys through this crazy business of music. Click the audio or find the podcast on your app to listen in!

Discussion points:       

  • Laura shares factors that contributed to her multifaceted, successful life and career.
  • We go into the value of experiential learning, entrepreneurship, and the value of what we’ve gained along the way.
  • We discuss how experiencing our own career struggles and personal anxiety help us help our students and recording clients, and how one must be willing to gather the courage to show vulnerability to be a great performer.
  • Laura and I talk about being an empath and how empathy factors in our teaching and making. We also talk about empath overwhelm (both teaching and performing) and the need for mentors to have mentors. Laura gives us a little of her emotional journey getting pregnant.     
  • We agreed on the importance of authenticity in the world where a career making music is uber competitive and perfection can result in sterile art.
  • We share stories about meeting husbands in music, and of creating our own music projects. 
  • Laura takes us into her three companies: ET Studio Productions (‘Emerging Talent’), ET Labz, with teachers Laura has trained to teach multiple creative fields with special needs kids, and TE music group (publishing, managing, etc)
  • Laura shares two big mistakes she sees young artists make.
  • Laura generously shares two of her songwriting exercises she gives her clients.

About Laura

Laura Monaco-Martino is an entrepreneur, music creator and mentor of singers and other creative people. With her career experience, her skills in writing, intuitive business acumen and understanding of creative psychology, Laura has developed three companies with her husband. Here again are the links:
In her early career, Laura shared the stage with artists such as Lady Gaga, Lana Del Rey, and more. Her songs have had lots of media placement including “Keeping Up With the Kardashians,” “America’s Got Talent,” the “Hallmark Channel,” and Oxygen Network. She is certified from Berklee as a music business professional and vocal styles specialist. Laura’s clients have appeared on American Idol, The Voice, X Factor and America’s Got Talent, have toured the world and landed on major playlists (including getting millions of Spotify plays). She and her husband live and work in their studios in New York City (Staten Island) with their baby son. You can contact her at her websites listed above.

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